Plant Therapy – one leaf at a time


My color inspiration, bridging the interior colors with the garden

If you’ve been following along with the ups and downs in my life recently you won’t be surprised to know that I felt in need of a little pick me up, and what better tonic could there possibly be than a trip to buy plants at the nursery?

The excuse…

We have recently had a new patio installed and I now have several more garden beds to fill (oh darn).  We have also just added a new window to our open concept living/dining/kitchen so suddenly find ourselves mesmerized by the daily changes in our garden. I swear buds swell as I stare at them….. It’s a wonder I get anything done!


The view from our new window; better than TV!

Where to start?

The hard thing about being a designer is that I often have too many ideas! I can put plans together far more efficiently for clients than I can for our own garden and needed to narrow down my focus. I started by considering the color palette.


Our living room is a blend of soft blues and grays but I’ll often add a contrast throw or switch out the pillows with the seasons. I really like this one I found at Pottery Barn as it pulls the garden colors (foliage and flowers)  into the home – and gave me a good starting point for plant shopping.

Now to SHOP!

I decided to add some deep purples to the blue-grey, green and orange mix and selected a new variety of corkscrew hazel as a specimen plant. It is Red Dragon corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Red Dragon’) which reputedly holds its burgundy color longer than Red Majestic – we’ll see! Of course right now its just a bunch of curly twigs but soon it will have twisted dark burgundy-purple foliage and next year should also sport some cool purple catkins.


If you can ignore the bamboo cane, you will appreciate the wonderful contorted branches of Red Dragon corkscrew hazel. It also has purple buds, leaves and catkins

However I need purple tones right NOW so  was really excited to come across this new Rhododendron called Wine and Roses. Look at that foliage!!!


Purple indumentum underneath the dark green leaves of Wine and Roses rhododendron

Oh swoon. That is some serious fine foliage. Now to be honest my excitement may have got the better of me as I think this spot may be too hot for this rhodie. Not to worry, I’ll put it in the front garden where it will receive protection from more mature plants and the colors will still work there. The flowers are said to be a deep pink which also works better for the front. What can I say in my defense? I got distracted….

So I STILL needed purple leaves; finally nailed it with Ruby Glow spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides  ‘Ruby Glow’). Great evergreen perennial and love the lime bracts that are just beginning to open.


Chartreuse ‘flowers’ on the dark leaved Ruby Glow spurge are just beginning to open. Joined by a stray branch of Quicksilver hebe!

Time to get back to my base color of blue-grey. You can see a little branch of Quicksilver hebe  (Hebe pimeleoides ‘Quicksilver’) weaving through the spurge; that will work well as will this blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens).


The evergreen foliage of blue oat grass is the perfect shade of blue-grey

Finally time to bring in my accent color of orange. Love looking out of my new window and seeing the orange pots and new orange foliage of my Double Play Gold spirea. However that spirea is too large for this space so I selected Magic Carpet spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’) instead as it only grows to about 2 feet tall.


From back to front:Magic Carpet spirea, Ruby Glow spurge, Quicksilver hebe and Henfield Brilliant rockrose

Look how it works with all the other foliage – yum! There will be another splash of orange in spring from Henfield Brilliant rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium ‘Henfield Brilliant’).This is a tough, evergreen groundcover that will be covered in burnt orange flowers soon. The  foliage is a lovely fresh shade of green .


Henfield Brilliant rockrose will have deep orange flowers in spring

I also picked up a few orange pansies for good measure. Voila!


Notice how these plants pick up the colors in the distant border (as well as the interior color scheme)

Now if this rain would just stop I could get planting…..

So what are YOU finding at the nurseries? Do let us know in the comments below or leave a note on our Facebook page.

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6 thoughts on “Plant Therapy – one leaf at a time

  1. Lita Sollisch

    Your personal garden vista is beautiful as well as today’s color choices. Thanks again for great info.

    1. Karen Chapman Post author

      You’d laugh if you saw this view today – or even an hour after I took the photos. We had a HUGE tree come down in the storm …..I’m procrastinating getting out there to sort it all out! Glad you enjoyed the post

  2. Cathi Lamoreux

    I am not an orange person and, to some extent, not fond of burgundy (although there is some of that color in my garden,) I never purposely plant orange! But, in your garden it works beautifully! I love the repeat of colors from the distant garden (including the door on the garden house) all the way into your home. Beautifully done!

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